In the first reading Paul, along with Silas, Timothy and Luke had taken boat trips from where Istanbul Turkey is today. By three stages they arrived at Philippi, which was the Roman capitol of Macedonia where Brutus, the slayer of Julius Caesar, fell on his sword fifty years earlier.
The four came out from the town, walking along a riverbank. They were looking for a spot that people would consider perfect for praying; and sure enough, they found such a place, coming on women who had also come out from town to pray there.
One of them, whom Luke identified as Lydia, was a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira.
Some years ago a critic of the Bible pointed out that there was no way that Thyatira, an inland town, could have supported a purple cloth industry. In response the author of the article brought forth evidence that in Paul’s time Thyatira had been located on an island that secured purple dye from squid. It was afterwards that a tsunami had forced them to relocate Thyatira inland.
An interesting detail in the story of his travels was that Paul kept the good habits he had developed when he was a Pharisee. For all the bad things said about the Pharisees they had to be credited for supporting themselves. They received no salary. For all his time in Corinth Paul would continue supporting himself working at his trade of tent making.
In Philippi however, after he had baptized Lydia and her family, that family demanded that Paul and his companions accept their hospitality. For long after he left there the Christians at Philippi continued sending him support and men to serve him. In his final letter to them from Rome Paul wrote that no other church had shared with him the way they had.
I can remember discussions between priests in which they spoke of some parishes as being less generous than others. In my forty years in this diocese I have served in four parishes, finding all of them generous, but none so much as the last one where I was privileged to live.